GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 154-2
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-1:00 PM


RANDALL, Allyson1, RIOUX, Matthew1, MULLER, Alexandria2, BIANCHINI, Julie2 and VISKUPIC, Karen3, (1)Department of Earth Science, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, (2)Department of Education, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, (3)Department of Geosciences, Boise State University, 1910 University Drive, Boise, ID 83725

Graduate teaching assistant (GTA) positions prepare emerging scholars for success in academia while also filling an essential support role in undergraduate education. Research is emerging that focuses on the assessment and evaluation of STEM-specific GTA training programs; however, the field of geoscience has limited research on GTA training. This study explores the experiences and perceived needs of geoscience GTAs from the graduate student perspective. We interviewed 18 geoscience GTAs using semi-structured interviews. Twelve of the interviewed GTAs had been involved with field courses or courses containing a field component. Through a cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT; Engeström, 1987) lens, we analyzed GTA perceptions of their teaching to determine how interactions within the academic system can provide support or pose challenges. Teaching in the classroom and field were viewed as two separate activities and analyzed as such. Although ~50% of GTAs in classroom settings reported that non-mandatory training from instructors or other campus resources was useful, ~80% expressed that they were lacking adequate training, ~70% desired clearer expectations or guidelines from the course instructor or department, and ~45% commented on the difficulty of navigating dynamics with instructors. For GTAs with experience teaching field courses, ~75% expressed a desire for clearly defined expectations from the instructors and/or department and ~60% desired first aid or CPR training as part of their preparation for GTA positions. Many geoscience departments rely on university-wide training to prepare their GTAs, but our findings suggest that GTAs need additional training and support unique to their role teaching in a geoscience context. Furthermore, GTAs involved in field courses face unique challenges that need to be considered in the development of future professional development training programs.
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